AUTHORPosey, Carl A.
TITLEHow the Korean War Almost Went Nuclear
PERIODICAL TITLEAir and Space Magazine
DATE PUBLISHEDJuly 2015
VOLUME NUMBERn/a
ISSUE NUMBERJuly 2015
PAGE NUMBERSn/a
ISSN0886-2257
Web Access
Available online from Smithsonian Institute


This article focuses on the little known facts surrounding the deployment of nuclear weapons during the Korean War. The author describes the series of threats, feints, and practice nuclear bombing runs exercised by the United States from July 1950 to June 1951. Those included movement of B-29 bombers to the United Kingdom within striking range of the Soviet Union in June 1950 and placement of atomic-capable B-29s accompanied by atomic bombs minus their nuclear cores on Guam. In November, U.S. President Harry S. Truman indicated the use of atomic bombs controlled by the military would be considered to win the war. The final ruse was the deployment of B-29s and atomic bombs complete with nuclear cores to Okinawa in April 1951. Not mentioning the problem of target selection and the “nuclear taboo,” the author relies on the argument made by historian John Lewis Gaddis that nuclear weapons were not detonated in Korea because the U.S. had no clear strategy for using them in a limited war.


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